This classic Red Velvet Cake features chocolate layers colored red and slathered with loads of cream cheese frosting studded with pecans.
It's been a really long time since I baked a cake. I don't even remember the last one I did bake. So, last weekend I thought it was just time for one. And what could be better than a good old Red Velvet Cake? With all that yummy cream cheese and toasted pecans. How can you resist something like that?
Red Velvet cake is actually a chocolate layer with red food coloring added and then frosted with a cream cheese icing. I started wondering about the origins of Red Velvet, a cake well known throughout the South, so I did a little internet searching. Turns out not much is known about its origins, but there is general agreement on its popularity!
I love this quote from Angie Mosier, a food writer from Atlanta, who said, "It's the Dolly Parton of cakes: a little bit tacky but you love her!" Perfect description of the luscious Red Velvet Cake.
How to Make Red Velvet Cake
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and set aside. You could use two 9-inch pans, but I think the 8-inchers make a prettier cake. Whatever floats your boat.
Make the Batter for the Cake Layers
Cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating for 1 minute on medium speed.
Add the cocoa and red food coloring to the creamed mixture.
Now let me tell you that red food coloring and KitchenAid mixers have no respect for your kitchen cabinets, countertops, nor your clothing. More shirts have been ruined while making Red Velvet cakes. So, when I get to this step, I turn off the mixer and very gently and easily stir the coloring in by hand.
Some people make a paste of the cocoa and food coloring and then add the paste to the creamed mixture. That also helps prevent splashing of the red food coloring. Of course, it helps if you're not the world's biggest klutz. I just happen to be.
Add the vanilla to the buttermilk and set aside. And there's my Albany Drug Co. vanilla again.
A Word About Vanilla
Unless you grew up in or around Albany, Georgia, you’ve probably never heard of “Albany Drug Co. Vanilla.” It has to be the best vanilla I’ve ever used. Period. It has a strong vanilla flavor, but there’s something more to it. A sweet, almost smokey (as in cigar kind of smokey) smell. I really don’t know how to describe it. It’s just something you have to experience.
Anyway, Albany Drug Company made this vanilla for years and years. As long as I can remember. Sadly, Albany Drug Company no longer exists, but the vanilla lives! It is still available from U-Save-It Drugs. They’re still making it just like Albany Drug always did. So, if you ever find yourself in southwest Georgia near Albany, run by U-Save-It and get yourself a bottle of the vanilla. You won’t regret it.
By the way, I have no affiliation whatsoever with Albany Drug Company or U-Save-It Drugs. They have absolutely no idea who I am. I just like their vanilla.
Sift the flour together with the salt.
Alternately add the flour and buttermilk to the creamed mixture. Blend the vinegar and baking soda and beat it into the mixture.
Sorry I don't have a picture of the baking soda and vinegar reaction but it happens so fast you don't even have time to pick up your camera. If you have little ones around your house, call them in when you start to do it. They'll love it. All that violent fizzing really excites them.
Bake and Cool the Layers
Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake 20-28 minutes. I know that's a big time difference, but it depends on your oven, the weather, and lots of other stuff. Just start checking it at about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for approximately 10 minutes. Turn out layers onto a rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting
There's no way to mess this up. You just basically dump it all in the mixer together and crank it up. Beat the butter and cream cheese until light and creamy. Add the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar and beat well. Stir in the pecans.
Frost the Cake
Prepare your cake plate or pedestal. I like to put some strips of wax paper around the edges to keep the plate clean while I frost the cake. I tend to not be the neatest cake froster. Also, I put a little dollop of frosting on the cake plate to help hold the bottom layer. It keeps it from slipping around on the plate.
Spread frosting between the layers, on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top with additional toasted pecans. See how clean and neat that cake plate is? I told you.
More Cake Recipes on Never Enough Thyme:
- Chocolate Little Layer Cake
- Chocolate-Chocolate Cake
- Caramel Layer Cake
- Lemon Lime Cake
- Glazed Pumpkin Pound Cake
- Never Fail Pound Cake
Traditional Cake Recipes from Other Bloggers:
- Hummingbird Cake from Add A Pinch
- German Chocolate Cake from Leite's Culinaria
- Southern Coconut Cake from Completely Delicious
- Lane Cake from Food and Wine
- Lady Baltimore Cake from Taste of Home
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Red Velvet Cake
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 tblsp. unsweetened cocoa
- 1 oz. red food coloring
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 ½ cups flour sifted
- 1 tblsp vinegar
- 1 tsp baking soda
For the frosting:
- ½ cup butter
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- ½ tsp vanilla flavoring
- 1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup chopped toasted pecans (additional ½ cup to sprinkle on top if desired)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
- Cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating for 1 minute on medium speed.
- Add the cocoa and red food coloring to the creamed mixture. Note: some people make a paste of the cocoa and food coloring and the paste to the creamed mixture. It helps prevent splashing of the red food coloring.
- Add the vanilla to the buttermilk and set aside. Sift the flour with the salt. Alternately add the flour and buttermilk to the creamed mixture. Blend the vinegar and baking soda and beat it into the mixture.
- Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake 20-28 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for approximately 10 minutes. Turn out layers onto a rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
- Beat the margarine and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl until light and creamy. Add vanilla and confectioner’s sugar and beat well. Stir in pecans. Spread frosting between layers, on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top with additional toasted pecans.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
Lana Stuart is the cook and occasional traveler here at Never Enough Thyme. Lana has been cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove and started this blog in 2009 to share her delicious home cooking recipes. You'll find about 700 recipes here so there's sure to be something your family will like!
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